Apple PR's dirty little secret

Apple PR's dirty little secret

Summary: Apple PR maintains a blacklist of journalists that it refuses to talk to. This includes any media outlet that posts anything even remotely negative or heaven help you, a rumor.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Apple's public relations department is notoriously tight-lipped and only responds to a limited subset of the mainstream media, and usually only the outlets that write positive things about its products.

If you dare to write an unflattering piece about Apple or -- heaven forbid -- post a rumor you're almost guaranteed to lose your access to Apple. I know this firsthand because I'm the poster child of Apple's PR blacklist. (I was part of a precedent-setting legal case with Apple in 2005, which I won on appeal in 2007 -- thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.)

Say what you will about my work, but I call 'em like I see 'em.

I write good things about Apple, I write bad things about Apple and I also publish rumors when I believe that they're credible or plausible. I write about things that I find interesting and about topics that will benefit my readers. Sometimes Apple likes what I write other times it doesn't. Apple and I have classic love/hate relationship.

But one thing's for sure, I'm not an Apple cheerleader. If like reading puff pieces about Apple there are a number of websites and blogs that will gladly oblige. Or heck, just dial up apple.com/pr.

Case in point: On February 7 when Arun Thampi posted on his blog that Path was sneakily uploading iPhone user's address books to its server -- without permission -- I called and emailed Apple. Apple didn't reply. Then and I blogged about it.

On February 8 when Dustin Curtis blogged that Apple makes a standard practice of approving apps that upload the entire contents of your iOS address book to developer’s servers I again called and emailed Apple. Apple didn't reply. Then I blogged about it.

Later. Rinse. Repeat.

Then I got an idea. Since Apple PR never responds to my voicemails or emails, maybe they'd respond to the guys that do have access. So I contacted several prominent Apple pundits (who shall remain nameless) that are known for their access to Apple (some of whom get replies from Apple "every time") and I asked them to enquire about Apple's stance on enforcing its policy on address book uploads.

And you know what? None of them would do it.

(Update: ironically there's a couple of exclusive stories out today about Mac OS 10.8/Mountain Lion which certain members of the Mac Illuminati had access to a week early.)

Why? They'd probably say that Apple wouldn't comment. But someone's got to ask if they expect Apple to reply. I mean come on! Apple's not going to press release its shady developers that steal your contacts.

The fact of the matter is that most journos with access to Apple are afraid of losing it. They're afraid of asking the tough questions. They're afraid of getting blacklisted. Like me.

So then I contacted the Wall Street Journal.

There's a prominent columnist at WSJ that has lots of access to Apple. Arguably the most access to Apple. Apple loves the Journal. Apple sends controlled leaks to the Journal. Apple gives unreleased product to the Journal. Surely, Apple would have to respond to the Journal. Right?

Well guess what? Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr replied to AllThingsD today about the issue of developers stealing your contacts without permission. (More on that later)

Gee? I wonder why?

I'll tell you: AllThingsD is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Jones & Company Inc., which is a member of The Wall Street Journal’s Digital Network (which includes WSJ.com, MarketWatch, Barron's, and SmartMoney).

It's simple really. Apple needs the Journal. The Journal doesn't need Apple. And the Journal's not afraid of getting on Apple's PR blacklist -- because it would never happen.

Other wags with access, but without the clout of the Journal are probably afraid of getting blacklisted if they probe around too much -- or ask the tough questions.

My point is that if Apple PR actually read blogs and responded to queries from bloggers things like Address-gate might not explode into giant issues that end up in the Wall Street Journal. Apple could have nipped it in the bud a week sooner by simply replying to my email or voicemail with something to the effect of "yes, we're aware of the issue and we're looking into it."

Instead, Apple makes a conscious point of ignoring certain journalists hoping that unsavory issues like Address-gate blow over and that no one will notice. Well guess what, I'm persistent. And if Apple doesn't reply, I'll contact the people that I know at the Journal -- or my Congressman.

And before you cry "sour grapes!" consider this. I've been blacklisted by Apple for over 10 years. I never get invited, I never get replies. I'm long over it. This doesn't have anything to do with me. It's about you and your privacy. I called and emailed Apple PR because I care about my (and your) private contacts and I wanted to know why Apple isn't enforcing its own privacy policies.

If you don't care about developers stealing your contacts, that's fine. But I do.

Most wags desperately want their coveted invitation to Apple's iPad 3 event next month which they'll proudly post on their blogs. But they also know that they might lose their seat at the event if they upset the Applecart.

As for me, I'll be following the iPad 3 liveblogs like everyone else.

Topic: Apple

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96 comments
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  • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

    What did you do ten years ago to earn an Apple PR Lifetime banishment?
    kenosha77a
    • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

      @kenosha77a

      probably just posting rumors, i guess.
      but this was the icing on the cake:
      http://www.zdnet.com/blog/apple/apple-vs-me/170

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
      • Yup. That probably did it.

        @Jason D. O'Grady But kudos to you (and the EFF) for sticking to your guns over a constitutional disagreement. Well done.
        jscott69
      • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

        @Jason D. O'Grady
        So you're not a reporter but rather a gossip. I enjoy facts, not innuendo so take your gossip with you when you and the other old ladies in your gossip group have nothing else to do but gossip about anything that suits you regardless whether true or false.
        RagsAnne
      • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

        "Apple PR maintains a blacklist of journalists that it refuses to talk to. This includes any media outlet that posts anything even remotely negative or heaven help you, a rumor."

        Jason, what do you expect? You work for the enemy now. You work for Microsoft/ZDNet/CNet. You're a professional anti-Apple propagandist, a professional liar. Everything you write is done to discredit Apple.

        Apple doesn't turn on REAL writers who write bad reviews, and you know it. Only the professional liars, like you. They know that if they gave you the time of day, you'd find some way to make it ugly.
        zato_3@...
  • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

    Maybe more simply, they just don't consider you very important or influential ?
    alindsay0
    • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

      @alindsay0

      I don't care if Apple thinks that I'm "important" or "influential." See my paragraph on "sour grapes." I wanted Apple to take action against nefarious developers stealing my contacts.

      I don't like it when Apps steal my contacts without my permission. I like it even less when Apple allows it to happen. I like it less+ when Apple ignores requests for comment on it's own policy.

      I'm assuming that your fine with the practice?

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
      • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

        @Jason D. O'Grady So because we don't think for a minute there's an Apple blacklist, and even if there was, that you rate being on it, it means we are *for* apps stealing our data?
        This reasoning explains a lot of ZDNet articles...
        His_Shadow
      • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

        @Jason D. O'Grady Firstly Apple's silence does not imply they agreed (or me ?) with what was happening with the contact data.

        Apple PR probably didn't even have a reply to give you at the time. Just because an issue is discovered and reported doesn't mean they will have a press release on hand to provide on that exact situation.

        Like all their communication , nothing is going to be stated until they can provide clear information on where they stand and what they're planning to do.
        alindsay0
      • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

        @Jason D. O'Grady

        But pushing LImeWire is OK ?
        Serious _Yahoo
    • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

      @alindsay0

      Gossips are not what would be considered as important or influential.
      RagsAnne
      • you lie

        Unlike your theory, the reality is much different when it comes to gossip. Let me remind you that a gossip was a very good reason to invade Iraq and cause hundreds of thousands of deaths. How about that ?
        peterhelpme@...
    • Case dissolved half way through

      "Apple PR maintains a blacklist of journalists that it refuses to talk to. This includes any media outlet that posts anything even remotely negative or heaven help you, a rumor.

      ...

      And the Journal???s not afraid of getting on Apple???s PR blacklist ??? because it would never happen."

      Hmmm. No doubt Apple has there media favourites and views many as not worth responding to, we all do.
      Richard Flude
  • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

    "Apple PR maintains a blacklist of journalists that it refuses to talk to."

    Prove it.

    "Apple leaks things to the Journal."

    Prove it.

    "I???m long over it."

    LOL You're really not.
    ShawnKingYML
    • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

      @ShawnKingYML

      a) ask around a little, send an (non-softball) email yourself to apple PR, call apple pr yourself. you're a journalist, right?

      b) are you serious? obviously there's no proof. it's my opinion. but then again there's:

      http://gigaom.com/apple/former-apple-marketing-chief-confirms-tablet-info-leaks-are-intentional/
      http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/02/14/an-exquisitely-timed-iphone-leak/
      http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/how_apple_does_controlled_leaks/
      plus a million other sources. you read the trades, right?

      c) lol, i am. :)

      Thanks for reading!
      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
      • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

        @Jason D. O'Grady

        a) I speak to Apple PR on a regular basis.

        b) Yes, I'm serious and if there's no proof, you're dead in the water and your article, regardless of what you say, comes off as whiny sour grapes.

        The articles you link to prove nothing. The first simply references the third (which has been discredited) and the second makes unproven assumptions and accusations - just like you did.
        ShawnKingYML
      • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

        @Jason D. O'Grady <br>'lol, i(sic) am'<br>...err, NO, you are so not over it and your protestations to the contrary, undermine that notion, otherwise you would have long ago drawn a line underneath preceding history and moved on. You are making the mistake of mixing personal notions of 'fair-ness' with right and wrong, which enables Apple or any other corporation, to ignore you and control the story - with impunity. If you expose yourself and your real intentions then you fall at the first hurdle of ...forcing them to recognise your intelligence and give you an answer, which, I'm afraid, this article and your reasoning, does - along with much of the Apple related content that Zdnet produces. Aligning yourself with faux indignation, invective and snark, puts you so far below Apple's radar that...well...you are just encouraging Apple to ignore any valid point you may have. Bleating about say 'Apple's faceless corporate image and corporate spin' is akin to hating on the colour pink - because it's so...well...pink and is never going to be another colour. <br>On the other hand, recognising Apple for what they are, which is to say, a behemoth multinational entity with needs and policies at variance with naive notions of fairness, open-ness and accountability is, IMO, the more intelligent foundation from which to parse your enquiries. Put another way, ask your question from where the metaphorical puck is going to be, if things turn out as you expect - not from where it is now. It's an approach more likely to get a reply - if only to fob you off because it's seemingly innocuous and therefore easy to answer. But then, if you are proven right, you are more likely to have their attention thereafter.<br>Sorry if this comes across as patronising, I used to run journalism courses and almost the first thing we advised, was to leave yourself, your pre-knowledge and any judgemental tendencies at the door, on the way to a story.<br>Fairness for friends and family is wholly appropriate.
        frogspaw
      • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

        @Jason D. O'Grady I'm not a fanbois, but I am a 20 year veteran of the US Navy and we kept a list of people we'd talk to and others. Apple, like any other company likes to put their best image forward. I love my new Mac Mini, sure I bought more storage and a 27" monitor, bringing me one step closer to fanbois, but I still have common sense. It's a mid 2011 Core i5, 2.5 Ghz. <br><br>Okay it's cool, but really any big institution has it's people that it can go to. It took me three calls to get the sampling rate of the sound port, something I could have got of the back of a SoundBlaster box.Apple is more "black box" in a sense, but this is a much better quality machine than my old machines, it's like a Linux machine that actually works with DRM and real integration of software.<br><br>I honestly believe most folks hear what they want to hear. Speaking to PR doesn't mean you're getting anything special, it means you're getting PR. Do I believe you, yes. As a retired Navy CMDR, I kept a list of people to say nothing to. Hey, I'll blow sweet nothings in their collective ears, in the end, they got nothing.<br><br>
        wuboyblue
    • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

      @ShawnKingYML : have you ever posted anything against Apple or are you just a sycophantic apple brown noser?
      deaf_e_kate
      • RE: Apple PR's dirty little secret

        @deaf_e_kate that is what he is apple is all about blind greed and that will be their undoing in a few years, we will all see the empire crumble. apple is built on hype much like nazi gemany.
        augustus_rome